When planning for a home purchase, whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or you own multiple properties, there are many things to keep in mind to make the process as smooth as possible. From credit scores and income tax returns to securing the right realtor and title company, the workload can seem overwhelming but the payoff is immeasurable. And with so much information and misinformation out there, it can be hard to determine where to even begin. With that in mind, here are our top 17 tips for buying a home in 2017:
Weigh Your Options and Prepare for Your Purchase
- If you’re currently renting, it may be time to take the plunge. Rent continues to increase, while mortgage rates are stabilizing. If you’ve been considering buying a home, check out a rate calculator to determine your rent-versus-buy monthly payment. You may find that the average cost of a mortgage is feasible for you.
- Get your credit in order. Homebuyers with scores above 800 remain in the best place to get the best rates, but those with scores of 690 and above can still secure a loan. Check your report and be sure there are no big red flags you need to take care of before you’re ready to buy a home.
- Keep your money where it is. Credit scores and bank statements will be part of the home-buying process, and lenders like to see stability. Don’t make large purchases for at least 3-6 months prior to buying.
- Determine where your market stands – are you in an area that currently has more inventory than buyers? Or more buyers than inventory? The current market can help or hurt your chances of purchasing your dream home – become educated so you know where you stand as the potential homebuyer.
- Know your numbers. Online calculators can be very helpful in this area – there are even down payments and closing cost calculators to help buyers determine what their costs will look like. Consider typical closing costs and escrow fees as well as title insurance cost, home insurance and more.
- Get pre-approved for your home loan. Buyers who are pre-approved, not just pre-qualified, have a better chance at landing the house they want quickly, as sellers can move faster with buyers who are set to go with their home loan.
- Include sleeper costs. There are costs besides your mortgage payment – consider property taxes, utilities and any monthly association dues. Homeowners also need to be aware of costs for repairs, maintenance and potential property tax increases.
It’s Time to Buy
- Find and hire the right team to support you and lead you in the right direction during the home buying process. The right realtor can help you find your dream property, and an experienced title insurance agent can guide you on everything from property title search to typical closing costs and more. Professionals will help ensure a smooth home buying process, and help you avoid unnecessary stresses.
- Use your resources. There’s a reason many homebuyers use real estate and title insurance companies that have been referred by friends or family. Read online reviews of the companies you’re considering hiring. Look for those with great reputations and established trust in your community. You’ll also want to be certain your title company works with top-notch underwriters and legal counsel, as these professionals will also have access to your personal information.
- Find and secure a home loan that is right for you. There’s money out there, and that’s true even for those homebuyers who can’t put 20 percent down. Do your research and work with lenders who have great reputations and won’t try to convince you to get an interest-only loan.
- Be aware of your security. During a home purchase, much of your personal information is passed around. The professionals you work with should have secure systems to communicate your sensitive information such as property owner information, title information, closing fees and more.
- Use both your head and your heart. It’s easy to get swept up in buying the home you dream of, but be certain that you can afford the home and that the property value is real. No one wants to be “house poor.” This is a big decision and if you go with your instincts and not just emotions, you will make the right decision.
- Make sure you get to know the neighborhood. You need to love not just the home, but the area, as well. Drive through the neighborhood at different times throughout the day to see what’s happening. Familiarize yourself with local grocery stores, your commute to work, etc.
- Make a realistic offer. Keep in mind that the 2017 housing market is competitive, so it is likely that your offer is not the only one. Your realtor can make recommendations and supply you with comps of similar homes in the area so that your offer is consistent and realistic. If the home you want is highly sought after, you may also consider writing a “love letter” to the seller, detailing what buying the home would mean to you and painting a picture of your family’s life in the home.
- Ask your title company to perform a property title search to ensure no “surprises” pop up on your new home.
- Hire a home inspector. This is worth the cost and will give you peace of mind that your new home is foundationally sound and without any major defects.
- Take time to enjoy the process. It may be overwhelming at times but if you have the right team working with you, the home buying process can be enjoyable and exciting. And there’s no better feeling than signing those closing documents and getting the keys to your new home!
At Title Partners of South FLorida, we have an experienced team of professionals who have been serving the state of Florida for over 22 years. We understand this purchase is one of the biggest of your life, and we’re here to help make your home buying and real estate closing experience as smooth as possible!